Because real life doesn’t have privacy settings

You’d have thought this disguise would have worked better than it did

The other day, I found out what it might be like to be famous. Not properly famous: not papped-putting-the-bins-out famous. But, you know, famous in the same way that finding 10p under your bed makes you rich.

My fame comes courtesy of a guy who spotted me on a date last week. He’d recognised me via OkCupid, or recognised my hairline anyway – as he disclosed on his message, he was was sitting several tables away and the other diners’ shoulders blocked out my face.

A perplexing situation, you might imagine, given how dissimilar I look from my photos. (Exacerbated by the fact I was wearing a fake tache.) But no, it was definitely me he’d seen. The restaurant, the day of the week, what my date’s back looked like – this guy could have scored full marks on a situational awareness quiz.

It actually isn’t the first time I’ve been spotted. It’s the third time, to my knowledge. I was once recognised as I hurtled to work like a panicked wildebeest with a sweat-on. I was once recognised in the queue for a nightclub. And now things have come full circle and I’ve been recognised on a date.

This is probably becoming an increasingly common experience in the internet age. Now that everybody has facebook, and everybody idly clicks through their friends’ photo albums and then gets sidetracked by their friend’s friends’ photos of their friends of friends until they find before they know it it’s 3 in the morning and they have to get up in four hours, it is not unusual to see someone in the street and recognise them from your cousin’s girlfriend’s colleague’s holiday ‘Malaga 2008’.

Still, being recognised via OkCupid feels somehow weirder. I think it’s because, while Facebook is a place for public display – a meeting hall, if you like – OkCupid is more like a private antechamber. Here, we are dealing with clandestine matters – our sexual preferences, and What We’re Looking For and how we’d feel about being tickled with a feather at the point of no return. If someone sees you in real life, the two worlds collide, and a stranger knows you scored Playstation on the Slut Test.

Have any of you had similar experiences? If so, were you similarly disconcerted? For my part, I’m hoping this is as famous as I’ll get. Were I to marry Brad Pitt, I don’t think I could face being dubbed ‘Brabi’.


About Abi Millar

British freelance journalist living in the Netherlands
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10 Responses to Because real life doesn’t have privacy settings

  1. Mish says:

    I’m pretty sure I get noticed all the time. I honestly would love it if someone that did recognise me actually stopped me to say hello and have a chat. But we seem to live in a country where talking to/approaching strangers is not proper.

    The 2 only other possibilities are; 1/ I’m so handsome that women can’t help but stare and turn their heads in a Linda Blair like fashion, or 2/ I constantly have bogey falling out of my face!


    • Mark says:

      Or 3/ You are in the your own version of the Truman show and everybody knows who you are! Or that might just be me who thinks that.

      • Abi Millar says:

        @Mish – None of them actually said hi at the time though. They always send a sheepish message a few days later
        @Mark – I’m pretty sure everyone secretly thinks that 🙂

  2. C0LLIDER says:

    Yah, I was recognized in a restaurant. I was eating with some old high school friends when this girl approached my table. I recognized her but couldn’t recall her name until after babbling incoherently for about five seconds. It turns out that we’d exchanged a few messages before and I had gone out with a friend of hers once.

    After she left, my buddies were super impressed to see that strange women just approach me from out of the blue. 😛

  3. Natalie says:

    Not recognised as such but I was chatting to a guy on OKC who was local to me, started texting him, all was going well. Then he added me on facebook and uttered the immortal words “I know you from somewhere…”. Turns out he was friends with my ex boyfriend from 7 years ago, and he and I even met a few times through said ex.

    Another time – I was talking to a guy on OKC, told him I am in profession X, he says “oh I have a friend who is also in profession X, do you know him?” Turns out his ‘friend’ is my boss. Cringe.

    I am just waiting for the day someone I have been talking to on OKC (or worse, been on an unsuccessful date with) spots me on a date with someone else. Ugh. Bit creepy!

  4. ZW says:

    I wish I had your command of the English language, nice blog!
    Fortunately I’m pretty generic-looking, so this hasn’t happened to me in the 12 months I’ve been a member.  Though I will admit to having so many deceptive profiles on sites like okc, I’ve twice met myself at less-than-reputable locations for lesser-than-reputable activities…both times both of me forgot his wallet.

  5. Rambling says:

    In college, I would frequently go to a computer lab to work on my homework. Not long after a young woman took over the lab, did I stumble upon her profile on OkCupid. I’ve always wondered if she connected my profile with me, or even checked her “visitors.”

    Three years later we did date for about a year, though I never remembered to bring it up.

  6. Nancy H says:

    i always feel a little creeped out when i find someone i actually *know* on OKC.. given the lovely collection of dorks i know, it’s not that uncommon, but i still find it somehow a crossing of lines!

  7. Zander says:

    It could be much worse than being “recognized”. OkCupid does not use secure protocols when sending and receiving information from users. All emails, chats, profiles, and secret questions and answers can be intercepted by anyone on the same network.

    So that person who said they “recognized” you could have just intercepted data your phone was sending to and from with OkCupid, and then accessed your profile to see what you look like, then say “oh hey i RECOGNIZE you from OkCupid”.

    I’m writing a paper on it write now. Its bad, Choose a different dating site.

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